Sunday, February 28, 2010

year of the tiger




the chinese year of the tiger started a fortnight on february 14th as per their lunar calendar.ironically, instead of celebrating such a beautiful animal, we have to fight for their survival as they they have become the most endangered species in the world. tigers reflect the health of our forests. if they survive our forests will survive too.

we all know how our tiger population is fast vanishing.we are left with 1411 tigers only as per official reports issued by the NCTA (national tiger conservation authority). jairam ramesh,environment and forest minister thinks the figure is much less and that they are diminishing day by day.one of the mangroves where the tigers live is in sunderbans in West Bengal.there is a disturbing report that in another 60 years the entire sunderbans will get completely submerged.it is a frightening thought.according to a former director of Project Tiger,the tiger population in most reserves has diminished excepting in Corbett Park in Uttarkhand.because of the high density of tigers there,there is a concerted attempt to kill them.

what a sad state of affairs. from about 44,000 tigers at the turn of the century,we are now looking at a figure of about 1000.time is running out.let us join kiran bedi and others in contributing our mite for their preservation.

join the roar and save the tigers.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

one lemon,seven green chillies and a piece of charcoal.






yes,this combination can keep the evil away. if you are superstitious and think that evil eyes are being cast on you and your loved ones by some petty and jealous people, you can do what many in mumbai do. tie a lemon chilli charcoal combo and tie it up to your vehicle or the main door of your home. you will find the negative energies generated by your enemies diminishing.

rahul gandhi says it is not a bad idea when it was suggested that along the indo- china border we should tie the lemon-chilli-charcoal combo to prevent the chinese from trying to capture our territory. this is one instance where bjp also supports the congress party.

we are a superstitious lot, whether we like it or not. we run cars over lemons, we apply colyrium to our babies' eyes to ward off evil. we burn camphor in front of the gods so that no'drishti' befalls them. we also burn camphor and circambulate the camphor stand three times in front of our children so that no "bura nazar" falls on them."chashme bud dur"-kisi ki nagar na lage!

i bought this combo some time back and have kept it safely in my room. i think it is working.i might one day soon even get a german-silver vaastu/ fengshui compliant limboo- mirchi- charcoal to add to the numerous other 'totkas"(charm) that i keep, to bring me good luck. i even keep a "e-limboo" as dhrishti pariharam.

as the north indian would say "tere mukh kalo ho buri nazar waale" (oh man with evil eyes let your face be black)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

backbiters



a recent on-line survey of 2000 people in the UK revealed an interesting side of a woman's personality.according to this survey,female co-workers are twice more likely to be involved in backbiting than male colleagues.two in five women admitted to sending nasty messages to their co-workers against one in five men.it seems that a typical female employeee spends about 20 minutes a day foulmouthing someone they work with. either they text or email to convey their negative feelings.25% of the workers said that they moan about their colleagues even after office hours.

"on-poll", an online market research company that carried out the survey also said that women disliked their colleagues because they were jealous or saw them as a threat. on the other hand men envied their colleagues either for laziness or for having ideas above their station.oftentimes the problem was the boss.people in positions of authority are victims of backbiting. in the survey, senior management came out as the least liked group of all.

my name is khan



i tried to see this movie on the first show on the first day at inox,nariman point.it was house full for all the shows. the whole area looked like a battlefield with the police in every nook and corner to prevent any untoward incidents courtesy shiv sen/mns. the security arrangements had to be good. after all 'congress sarkar ka izzat ka savaal tha'.

then, after a long wait we went to see it to last saturday. i liked the film. a great tear-jerker; but then it also helps to unwind like that once in a while. shar rukh khan as rizvan and kajol as mandira make an awesome pair.having met kajol recently in a function,i was pretty excited to see her in her latest movie. she did not let the audience down. her acting was superb particularly in the highly emotional scene when she cries over the dead body of her son who was killed in his school's soccer ground after the 9/11 tragedy. shah rukh does a great job as an autist affected person. actually rizvan suffers from asperger's syndrome which is a mild form of autism. albert einstein suffered from this and even bill gates is supposed to be a victim of this form of autism.

the story is pretty simple and straightforward. rizvan and his brother are brought up by their mother(zareena wahab) after the premature death of their father.rizvan's mom is particularly fond of her autist son much to the envy of his younger brother who is good in academics and goes to the usa for further studies.she teaches him that there are only two types of people in this world. good persons and bad persons.their mother dies suddenly leaving rizvan all alone in the world.the brother sponsors rizvan's visit to usa and gets him a job to sell cosmetic products in san fransisco.the asperger affected rizwan walks and talks in a different manner.he gets nervous on hearing loud noises and is terribly scared of the yellow colour.all these things bring him one day close to death. he is saved by mandira (kajol) who works in a beauty parlour. she is a single mother and has a son to whom she is very attached.

mandira is struck by rizwan's simplicity and honesty.and his intelligence.rizwan tells mandira again and again "marry me".they fall in love and get married.the son likes the new father and it is one happy family till tragedy strikes.in the 9/11 aftermath,while playing soccer the son has an altercation with some american boys.there is a fight and the killer shoots the football right in the middle of the son's stomach. his spleen is badly damaged and the boy dies.mandira feels strongly that had he not taken the name khan,the boy would have survived.she is shattered and asks rizwan to get out of her life.

he leaves and wanders from place to place.during these movements he meets an afro-american family in willamina,georgia and becomes friendly with them.later when he hears that willamina is devastated by a cyclone with many people killed,he rushes to find out whether they are alive. he does a fantastic job of helping the victims.after all his claim while travelling in the american countryside is that "i can repair anything".he has a strong mechanical aptitude and can fix any mechanical contrivance.

"my name is khan and i am not a terrorist" arouses suspicion among the fbi authorities. his passion to meet george bush,the president of usa costs him dear.he is arrested,tortured and thrown into prison.he informs the fbi about the whereabouts of the fanatic muslim rabblerouser and as a reward he gets freed.his acts of heroism in willamina gets wide tv coverage and when the newly elected president of usa obama comes to georgia,rizvan gets the opportunity of directly meeting him. later the friend of the extremist stabs him in a public gathering and rizvan fights for his life. he survives and mandira and he are back together.

produced and directed by karan johar,the movie's message is that let us all love each other.let there be no artificial walls between us.there should be no mutual hatred but only love. the music is outstanding.shankar mahadevan,ihsaan and loy mendonca have done a wonderful job.with heavy sufi flavor,the songs sung by rashid,adnan sani,shankar,shreya ghosal,ruchi sharma and others are soul-stirring. sajda,noor-e-khuda,tere naina,allah hi raham,rang de and my name is khan sung by a paksitani troupe are all melodious.cinematography is of a high order.

it is a movie worth watching.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

what's life's greatest little pleasure?



"god bless the inventor of sleep,the cloak that covers all men's thoughts".-cervantes

a recent survey conducted in britain on about 3000 people by 'batchelor's cup-a-soup' puts a good night's sleep on top of the greatest little pleasures of life. can you put a price tag on these pleasures? maybe we should check with paul frijters,an australian economist who has recently worked out the value of various milestones in life.frijters has discoveered a formula to determine the cost of happiness. declared as the best economist under age 40,he says,"money has a greater effect on happiness than previously thought". if you have any suggestions on the greatest little pleasures of life, submit it to www.cupasoupmomnets.co.uk.

the top 50 greatest little pleasures as per the survey are:

1.a good night's sleep
2.finding a forgotten tenner in your pocket
3.cuddling up with a partner in bed
4.crying with laughter
5.having a lie-in
6.sleeping in newly laundered bedding
7.getting a bargain
8.making someone smile
9.catching up with an old friend
10.laughing at things that have happened in the past
11.eating a Sunday roast with your family
12.someone saying you look nice
13.curling up on the sofa with a good book and a hot drink or soup
14.discovering you've lost a few pounds
15.breakfast in bed
16.waking up thinking it's a work day and then realising it's the weekend
17.a random person smiling at you in the street
18.looking through old photo albums
19.eating a takeaway
20.first snow fall of the year
21.Singing your heart out to your favourite song in car
22.having lunch with friends
23.listening to a baby laughing
24.having a massage
25.reading a book or listening to your iPod on holiday by the pool
26.playing in snow
27.finding a pair of jeans that fit perfectly
28.being chatted up
29.a girly-night in
30.a pampering session at home
31.the smell of freshly cut grass
32.sitting in the pub with your friends
33.looking at a baby asleep in a cot
34.waking up in a room with an amazing view
35.clothes shopping
36.receiving a letter from a friend
37.fitting into an old pair of jeans again after losing some weight
38.staying up all night getting to know someone special
39.your mum's cooking
40.getting dressed up for a night out
41.watching a live band
42.drinking a cold beer after work
43.browsing in a secondhand book shop
44.going to the cinema
45.getting a new hairstyle
46.your queue being the quickest in the supermarket
47.the cold side of the pillow
48.watching a DVD
49.getting tipsy
50.popping bubble wrap. (ANI)

have a good night's sleep!

Friday, February 12, 2010

the french loaf






recently i have been visiting chennai quite frequently. twice on business and once on a personal visit in the last one month. on the business trips, i decided to try out some restaurants that i have not visited so far.my colleague and i had lunch at an ayurvedic joint. i will come to that in my next blog. during another visit,we decided to have a light lunch and after some research,we zeroed in on 'the french loaf' at harrington road chetpet. run by chennai based oriental cuisines private limited,french loaf has some 18 outlets in the country,with their dominant presence in chennai of 7 of these restaurants.their tag line is appropriately worded-"we personify the art of baking".

the ambience here is cozy with an informal atmosphere all around.one can choose to sit on stylish chairs or opt for the bar with high stools.pictures depicting various french images including the eiffel tower adorn one side-wall near the bar.the service is excellent and personal.you get a wide array of breads,pastries,cakes,baguettes and croissants all in one place. the rye bread appears to be their speciality.it has good nutritive value and fibre content. and there are quite a few variety of european cheeses too,including my favourite gouda cheese. a one stop shoppe for bread and bread products. we had a sandwich made out of whole wheat bread with mexican vegetables as filling and we topped it up with some creamy cappucino.we enjoyed it and came out feeling light but fully satiated.

the icing on the cake was a chance encounter with south indian tv star khushboo when we were leaving. a sweet end to a pleasant dining experience.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

sabudana( tapioca pearl) khichdi




our cook gb is a maharashtrian. when asked to prepare poha or sabudana khichdi, she is in her elements.i must say she prepares both these dishes exceedingly well. gb also makes excellent javirisi paayasam( one of my favourite desserts). not that she is weak in preparing our favourite tambrahm dishes.having worked for over a decade with us she has attained almost perfection in preparing iyengar cuisine. yet when it is the local stuff her face lights up.

sabaudana khichdi usually prepared by maharashtrians on fasting days is light on the stomach. at the same time gives the required energy to carry on with your tasks.the success of making this depends on the soaking period of the sabudana. too little soaking time or too long soaking time can ruin your efforts. the right soaking time is learnt out of experience and varies depending on the quality of the sabudana.hence soaking is the key.

roasted peanuts ground to powder,cumin seeds,sugar,grated coconut,coriander leaves with a dash of lemon,some salt and green chillies,small cubes of boiled potatoes all together make one helluva combination. to be taken hot with a cup of yogurt and hot pickles is what the doctor recommends for lifting your spirits.

raw materials:
1 cup sabudana
1/2 tsp sugar
2 green chillies finely chopped
1/2 cup crushed groundnuts(coarse)
1 boiled & peeled potato
2 tsp oil
1/4 tsp rai (mustard seeds)
1 pinch hing (asfoetida)
2 tbsp grated fresh coconut
salt to taste
some coriander leaves and or some curry Leaves

how to make it :
Wash and soak sabudana in water. for minimum 2 hrs.
chop the potatoes into small cubes. mix crushed groundnuts,sugar and salt and keep aside.
heat the oil/ghee in a pan and add mustard seeds. when the mustard seed crackle(tadka). add cumin seeds, green chillies and curry leaves.
add potatoes and stir well. mix sabudana mixture gently.
mix the grated coconut and garnish with coriander leaves.
sprinkle some lemon juice over it and serve hot.
pickles and yogurt go well as accompaniments.

i will try sabudana vadi soon. that is also something to die for.